Lucky Linderman is experiencing some tough things in his life. He’s always been bullied by Nader McMillan, the school’s resident asshole, but lately Nader has ratcheted it up a notch. His parents notice and care, but they’ve taken a hands-off approach that isn’t working. Lucky’s dad is more absorbed with his obsession over his father – Lucky’s grandfather – who went MIA in Vietnam and was never found.
mess of contradictions. He’s depressed, but he’s maintained a wry sense of
humor. He claims he’s able to keep his head above water, but in reality he’s
floundering. He’s frustrated that his parents don’t seem capable of helping
him, but he doesn’t blame them. He feels sorry for himself, but he doesn’t
wallow. Basically, Lucky is the kind of guy you’d want to be friends with. He’s
the kind of guy you’d want to help – not because he seems pathetic, but because
he’s a good guy who’s struggling.
flat ancillary characters. Everyone – with perhaps the exception of antagonist
Nader – is a fully-realized person with nuances. The subplot involving Lucky’s
aunt and uncle is a perfect example. At first, Lucky gets along swimmingly with
his uncle and can’t stand his aunt, but Lucky eventually learns a lot about
both people, and it broadens his understanding of them and their situation.
that I mean she uses devices like Lucky’s dreams and the ants to talk about the
Important Things like depression and bullying, but she also uses them to have
fun. The ants are frequently hilarious and Lucky’s dream-adventures with his
POW grandfather are action-packed and thrilling. It’s literary fiction with
books I’ve read lately, there aren’t any rookie mistakes or places that could
have used more judicious editing. The book as a whole is so well done, instead
of putting it down and thinking, “I could do better than that,” I put it down
and thought “I wish I could do that.” Highly recommended, and I hope it gets a little Printz love at awards season.